VR surgery
Two camera are used to record 360-degree video of a live surgery Medical Realities / YouTube

On 14 April a London hospital become the first in the world to stream a surgical procedure live and in virtual reality. The surgery, to be performed by Dr Shafi Ahmed at the Royal London Hospital, starts at 1pm BST and is available to watch for free on any compatible VR headset.

Primarily aimed at educating thousands of medical students who will be watching the surgery live, anyone with a VR headset – such as the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR – can tune in. The procedure will be recorded by a rig of cameras then streamed live through the VRinOR app, which can be downloaded for free from the Oculus store, as well as Google Play and the iOS App Store.

"I am honoured that this patient has given permission for his experience to provide this unparalleled learning opportunity. As a champion of new technology in medicine, I believe that virtual and augmented reality can revolutionise surgical education and training, particularly for developing countries that don't have the resources and facilities of NHS hospitals. I am very excited about the expansion of this program to bring more medical learning to the world," said Ahmed.

The live stream will use technology produced by Mativision, a company which specialises in 360-degree and VR video. George Kapellos, head of marketing and partnerships at Mativision, described the surgery as "a very important milestone" for the company and how VR can be used in the medical industry.

Here is how to watch the live VR surgery:

  • Get your hands on a VR headset. This can be anything from the £10 Google Cardboard and its many eBay-sourced knock-offs, to the £85 Gear VR for owners of the Galaxy S6 and S7 smartphone range;
  • Download and install VRinOR from Play, App Store or the Oculus Store; and
  • Boot up the app at 1pm BST and start watching the surgery.

For those who don't have a VR headset, the procedure will also be streamed live to the Medical Realities website and as a 360-degree video on YouTube.

Here's a previous surgical procedure uploaded to YouTube as a 360-degree video.